Sunday, August 13, 2017

Reading Organizers for Common Core Literature and Informational Text 4th-5th Grade

I made these organizers to help me cover the common core standards and also organize how I run Reading Workshop. It's a very simple system and I outlined the steps below. This helps me with my instruction and keeps my Reading Workshop organized.

This is an example of one of the organizers from the 80+ pack. This one focuses on figurative language.

This is one way that you could use these organizers to help you easily implement the common core standards in your classroom.

1. Choose the standard that you are working on and the organizer that goes with that standard. There is more than 1 to choose from.
2. Choose a piece to text to model the standard. Complete the organizer so you know what you will model with your students. 
3. Teach the lesson with your students and they fill in the organizer as you model your thinking. (Whole Group)
4. Copy the organizers that you modeled with your students and place them in file folders that you can easily access while teaching Guided Reading - Reading Workshop.
5. Have the students complete the organizers as they read independently.

It's that easy! You can find all these organizers by following the link below.

This is another example of CCSS RL3 for 4th grade. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

DOK Question Cards and Guided Reading

Every year I try different strategies during guided reading to see how I can reach all of my students, create challenge, and engage them. This past year I created D.O.K question cards, and to my surprise my students really liked them. They liked having the choice of which D.O.K level to choose from and they also became the teacher. Of course they needed to know the answer to the question before they could become the teacher...accountability in action. Over the past few weeks I have been refining my cards and I'm calling them Stomp the Monster D.O.K Question Cards Below is a picture of what they look like printed in monotone. I'm really excited to use these with my students this year as well and refine my practice as a teacher!

Above is the stack of question cards that students would look through to find a question they could answer. I did not include all the question cards when I began using this, but added more as we moved forward with learning strategies and skills. That way students were choosing questions that went along with skills and strategies that we were working on in class. Then they would write the answer to the question in their flip book which is shown in the picture off to the left. Next students would ask their neighbor their question. 

Students also had monster book marks that they would use and get a reward sticker every time they competing the activity. I used this as a way to motivate my students. It's amazing how students will work for a sticker. The book mark is right below and students would place their sticker in one of the boxes. I copied these onto onto colored card stock to save on colored ink.

 As students worked on this I kept a record of what I saw and documented their reading behavior in my teacher guided reading book. I used a simple rubric that included three areas that I wanted my students to focus on. Those areas were their behavior during our reading time, their ability to speak and listen, and their ability to apply a strategy. I never assessed all three of these areas at one time, but began with their behavior as they read. That was the most important. Once we practiced that the 1st month then we focused on the speaking and listening and strategy/skill work. 

As we used this last year, I observed that my most challenging students that were hesitant as first, were the ones that wanted more challenge as they gained confidence in asking higher level questions.  

Best of luck this school year! If this is something you would like it can be found at the following link below and above.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Writing Student SMART Goals

Having students write a goal is easy, but following through on the goal, and determinging the steps that students need to take to meet the goal is the difficult part. So I have struggled for the past 3 years with this process until I found something that worked for me. Yes I have been making and testing processes in my classroom until I found something that worked, was manageable, was successful, and the students understood the process. After testing various processes I found something I could manage and provided me with data that was reliable. 

I broke my thinking down into parts so that it would make sense.

This was the problem...

I needed to find a way in which students took ownership of their learning. I needed a way for students to see that their actions impacted their learning. I needed a way to display this information so that the students constantly saw this information. 

This was a lot. I have assessments, but how do I solve the problems to the above?

This is what I ended up with.

1. My students were given a pre-assessment and it was graded based on a point value. For example the test might be worth 20 points. The assessment is also scaffolded so I can easily find out what they know and don't know. A student might earn a 2/20 on their pre-test. 

2. Next I take my test and divide it into 4 areas. The areas are called exemplary, meeting, developing, and emerging. So a student who earned a 2/20 would be in the emerging range. I also create the poster shown below and this is posted to my data wall along with the standard/s that are being taught and my anchor charts. 

3. Students are given their pre-test back along with a "My SMART Goals" sheet which I created for my students. Students go through their test and find out what they know and don't know and then write goals.

It might look like this...

Template to write student goal:

Goal: I will earn _____ more points on my math post-test by taking the following steps.

Step 1: I can learn how to…(students write down what skill they missed from the pretest). You need to write down the problem # and the skill so students understand what they missed. by...

Step 2: I can learn how to…students write down what they missed by...

Step 3: I can learn how to…students write down what they missed by...

I want students to realize that their behaviors impact their learning and for them to take responsibility for their learning these are actions they can choose to do. If they don't, it might lead them in a different direction. 

  • ·      taking good notes
  • ·      paying attention to the lessons
  • ·      doing my best on my homework
  • ·      doing my best on my classwork
  • ·      participating in the lessons
  • ·      doing my best during small group math
  • ·      doing my best during small group reading
  • ·      doing my best during math chats
  • ·      leading lessons with my peers
  •    doing my best when I work on differentiated lessons 

   This is what my board looks like when we go through this process. The information below is what I model for my students so they understand what they need to fill out on their SMART Goal Sheet. 

   These are the sheets that I created to help my students with this process. Students also color code their stars to reflect the area they are in for their pre and post assessment. I copy these in black and white and staple the goal sheet to the front of the pre-test. After the post test it is attached to the back and the results sheet is on top of the goal sheet. You could also place the results sheet in their student data binder and keep it separate. I keep all the results together in their data binder. 

Click on the link above to get this for free on Teacherpayteachers

The sheet on the right I use after the post test when students analyze their results and reflect on what they might do differently next time. I love hearing the conversations that take place. 

Overall this is a huge process, but in the end it works. I can differentiate instruction for my students that understand the material and I can teach those that need to learn it. The best part is the pay-off in the end when my students are asking if the tests were graded. They are so focused on their goal versus their grade. It's great to hear what they say and I have yet to have a student fail. It's all about the GROWTH!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

How to Write a Reading Assessment Which Supports CCSS

How I Start and End with a Standard 4RL6

When I teach a standard, I begin with the skills that the students need to know to master it successfully. My school district has deconstructed the standards, and grade levels have created "I Can" statements which give teachers an idea what the students need to know. These are the "I Can" statements for 4RL6 that I will be using. Once I have reviewed the "I Can" statements and understand what they mean, then I begin to create an assessment.


Creating an assessment can be an overwhelming task. If you follow this simple rule of test making your task will be much easier and you will cover all parts of DOK (Depth of Knowledge) including Level 4 which is application of the standard. 

Test Making Rule...Start simple, scaffold questions that build the skills and help you determine what students know, and end with complex thinking.

I ask myself questions when I create student assessments starting with simple.

1. What do they need to know first? These recall and knowledge level questions. Create that assessment piece.

2. What do they need to apply second and what skills do I need to teach? These are reading questions that students use skills to apply their knowledge. Create that assessment piece.

3. What do they need to apply third and what skills do I need to teach? These are skill and strategy questions that are more complex. Create that assessment piece.

4. What do they need to be able to successfully complete at the end? If they can't complete 1, 2, and 3 they will struggle with the last part of the assessement. The last part of the assessment will be a constructed response question based on text.

This is an example of 2 pages of what my assessment looks like for 4RL6. It takes the students about 30-40 minutes to complete, and it gives me great information that helps me determine what they know, where I need to start my lessons, and what I need to teach. Also this assessment can be broken apart and you can choose which pieces to use with your students. This assessment will be available for the 2015 - 2016 school year.

A Few Point of View Lessons...

I created my assessment, gave the assessment and graded it. I used that data to drive my instruction. I found out that my students didn't understand the vocabulary, but could identify the narrator of the story. I also found out that some students already knew what point of view was because it was previously discussed through close reads and small group instruction. But as you can see from the data, students did not master this skill through previous methods with only 5 in the 81% or higher and 17 students at 80% or lower. ( I knew that was going to happen.) The part that students bombed was the application of the skill with constructed response writing. This was obviously going to be a major focus. I separated the test into 2 parts, test and constructed response. I graded the response with a rubric.

My first lesson was all about vocabulary and learning the terms. We did this with our Interactive Reading Notebooks. Students learned the vocabulary of that standard with a focus on first and third person point of view. We also put in a part that shows the point of view as first or third, along with text evidence as proof. These lessons were done in parts, not all at once. Pictured below is an example of what this looked like. The material below is from my 4th grade Interactive Notebook Reading Literature 2015 edition. This will be available for the 2015-2016 school year.

I also created an Anchor Poster for my students to refer to and we posted the covers of books we read together as a class to determine point of view. I began reading The Three Little Pigs and the Big, Bad Wolf and then we read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs so students learned how to determine who is the narrator and what is the point of view. This was a super simple lessson and the students enjoyed it. Remember to pull your students into the lesson with text they will enjoy.

Another lesson that my students participated in was a Point of View Scoot activity thanks to Rachel Lynette and her task cards. I purchased these from TeachersPayTeachers, printed and cut them out. Students played scoot and practiced reading 24 different pieces of text and determined the point of view as first or third. Students reported out and proved the point of view by sharing text evidence. They also had an opportunity to rewrite the point of view as first or third. This is shown in the picture below. 

The last part of teaching point of view was the constructed response. Students needed to be able to determine the point of view...easy, and then explain how the story would change if it was written in a different point of view...difficult. What would we learn about the characters? How would the characters change if the point of view was different?

I taught them how to be a detective by making a Claim, finding Support - Evidence, and then Interpreting what that means. We used different colors to show that we had all parts of a constructed response. I also created organizers for the students to use which helps to scaffold instruction and guide their writing with their thoughts. We read the story The Talking Eggs and wrote a constructed response. Students also practiced this by reading short passages and writing a response. These organizers will be available for the 2015 - 2016 school year.


This is very difficult for students to complete. Let's be real for a moment and remember that not all of your students are going to be able to do's not possible with all the different levels in a classroom. So you really need to scaffold your writing at the beginning of the year. I used a lot of mind map organizers to help students brainstorm. Some of my students still need that type of support and some still need small group one to one instruction with writing. I do what I can, and as long as they are improving on the post test that shows growth. The bell curve is real and the majority will be right in the middle. So if I can move my red kids to orange or yellow, shown from the data chart above, that is an improvement. If they don't move then something is going on with my teaching or something is happening with the students and their testing.

Final Assessment

I administered my final assessment and the students were very successful. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the results, but I listed them below.

81% or higher - 17 students
61% - 80% - 6 students

This was growth when you compare this to the pre-test.

Constructed Response

81% or higher - 12 students
61% - 80% - 8 students
41% - 60% - 2 students

This was also growth when you compare this to the pre-test. 

Best of luck and I hope this helps you!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

4.NF.1 Equivalent Fractions

I love fractions and am so excited to finally get to teach them. This year I updated my equivalent fractions unit and this is what I did to teach 4.NF.1. Maybe you can use some of this to help you with your students.

So I started by posting this word problem...

I used this as a quick formative assessment to see where my students were at. Obviously with 68% answering yes so they didn't understand the concept of equivalent fractions. Some did and some probably were just lucky with their guess. I also gave them a pre-assessment in which I used that data to drive my small group instruction.

Our first lesson was with models. I had students create equivalent fraction models by filling in circles. I used the fractions 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4. I used the same color and wanted them to realize that the amount was always the same, bu the pieces were different.

Our second lesson was all about Birthday Cake! Yum! The students had an opportunity to create equivalent fraction cakes on paper of course. They got to use flavored frosting and colored their cakes. Again the purpose was for them to come to the conclusion that the fractions were the same, yet the pieces were different. The concept began to form in their heads with this activity and they also enjoyed being creative.

My next lesson was the all about listing multiples to find equivalent fractions. We practiced numerous times and got it. Below is an example of student notes and an example problem in which students identified the shaded fraction and then listed equivalent fractions by using multiples.

Finally I taught how you can also use multiplication to create equivalent fractions as long as you use a number greater than 1. I also taught how they can divide to create equivalent fractions. The numbers they multiply or divide by must be the same. Below is another example of student notes,

I ended the unit with a post assessment along with asking the same question I began with. A whopping 83% answered correctly. Yes they changed their thinking.

You can find my 4.NF.1 unit at 4.NF1-Practice-Homework-and-Activities-4th-Grade-Common-Core-Math-1630700

Good luck and I hope this helps your students with equivalent fractions.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Prose Constructed Response...Introducing Interactive Reader's Response Flaps and Show What You Know!

     Last school year I had the opportunity to attend a teacher in-service on Common Core writing for 4th-5th grade. The focus of the in-service was on Literary Analysis and Research. The presenter really made me think differently about the teaching of writing. The one thing she kept on stressing was that writing assignments should not be 2-3 weeks long focusing one only one kind of reader's response or essay based on one question. They should be shorter assignments that last 1-3 days maximum. The change was that it's all about exposing kids to different words and prompts, and teaching them how to respond to a question based on what they have read in text. They don't need to write large essays with multiple paragraphs for analytical response and research. They might write only a paragraph filled with explanation, and as long as the writing has structure within the paragraph they are showing they can formulate their ideas into written words that show understanding of what they have read. One of my biggest challenges has always been writing because of time, so this was a huge relief to hear. So I decided to take the information that I learned, what I know, and expand how I use my Reader's Response Notebook. I know that for students to learn how to write they need modeled instruction, anchors to view and time to practice, proofread, and revise. I have found that 45 minutes to 1 hour for writing/grammar instruction every day is best. If you can connect the writing with what you reading it connects the subjects, and with the new expectations of writing and CCSS you will need that when students begin taking the PARCC writing assessments.
     Analytical  response can be difficult not only to teach, but because there are so many different questions that students could be asked, and for 4th and 5th grade students all it takes is one word like describe, explain, or classify and they don't know what to do. So this past school year I began focusing on how to make this work for my students and this is what I did.
     First I expanded the use of my reading notebook to include R.W.I. - Read, Write, and Illustrate...Interactive Reader's Response Flaps with Sentence Stems

These are reading prompts that include sentence stems that help guide students with their writing. I also included a space for illustration or mapping. I've found that some students need to draw or map out their thoughts first before they write, and the illustration box provides that space. It also adds a personal touch because students can add visuals and illustrations to guide their thinking.

     When teaching an Analytical Response lesson I modeled the expectations for these Reader's Response Flaps so students had an anchor on one side of their notebook. This helps them when they write a response independently on the other side. One thing that I liked about this was it saved me wall space in my room. I didn't have to create anchor posters for every response we wrote since the anchor was already in their notebook. Yes!
      Another thing that I did was modify the flaps. I had a few students last year that had spatial/coordination issues and folding paper was difficult. I had those students cut off the flap and glue just the prompt in their response notebook. I used this modification and it was much better for them; differentiation in action! You could also cut off just the flap and glue in the question, sentence stems, and illustration section, don't include the Reader's Response title.
     I'm really excited to have something like this for my 4th and 5th grade students because it will definitely make things easier for them and myself. 

Maybe this is something that would benefit you and your students. Just click on the hyperlink above!

Show What You Know

     Another teaching source that I created last year and tested with my students was Show What You Know. This teaching source focuses also on analytical response as well, but it contains a scoring rubric on every page. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to create comprehension tests for every text that we read so this was a great resource for formative assessment and it's easy to grade. It also shows you which students need help with analytical response.

     Maybe this is something that would benefit you and your students. Just click on the hyperlink above!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Synonym Lesson

Super Cute Sushi Synonym Rolls!

I know this might sound unusual, but I couldn't resist the alliteration of sushi and synonyms and who doesn't love sushi. I created this lesson to review how to use a real thesaurus, an online thesaurus, and what synonyms are and how they help us as readers and writers. My students work in a 1 to 1 environment with iPads which makes this easy for using online resources such as and This made for a great wall display for the 5th grade team. We also watched a video on how to make sushi and what it's all about thanks to Wonderopolis. The students really enjoyed this lesson and it was fun watching them create their sushi. The nice thing about this lesson is that you can use the words that are already printed on each place mat or you can choose your own and have students write them in if you want other words. That makes it easy to differentiate.

You can find this at the link below. Have fun!